The high number of fatalities marks this as one of the bloodiest periods for the military since the invasion. Iraqi and American forces battled rebels in Baghdad for the second straight day today as car bombs exploded near two Shiite mosques in a wave of violence that has surged amid the country’s protracted power vacuum.

Police also found 15 bullet-riddled bodies across Baghdad of men shot execution-style in apparent sectarian bloodshed.

Overnight, Iraqi troops were still under sporadic gunfire from insurgents in Baghdad’s Sunni stronghold of Adhamiyah where the army was conducting search operations.

The army, along with US forces, yesterday fought a group of 50 gunmen in the neighbourhood. Five rebels were killed and seven captured after a seven-hour battle.


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